Let’s face it, COVID has turned all our travel plans upside down. For us, what would have been a quick 4.5 hour flight from Chicago to LAX for the holidays is now a multi-day trek across 7 states and 4 days (much more on that in a later post). I miss flying as much as anyone out there, but instead of lamenting about the way things used to be, it’s important to make the most of the travel that we still can do. That’s why when taking a road trip, it’s just as important to enjoy the journey as it is the destination, and it all starts with having the right gadgets and gear.
1. A Phone Mount That Can Fit Any Phone and Air Vent
Whether you are avoiding speed traps with Waze or finding cheap gas with GasBuddy, your phone is like your personal assistant when on the road. Having a mount for your phone is like giving your personal assistant a desk for them to do their jobs at. So get your phone the mount it deserves:
This seemingly simple device can prevent a lot of stressful situation on the road:
Switching drivers or switching phones midway through the trip? This mount fits any phone you throw at it.
Need to quickly run to the bathroom at the next rest stop? This mount makes it easy to grab your phone and go, and not pull the whole mount with you
Always renting different types of cars, trucks, and SUVs? This is compatible with virtually any car vent you may need
Get this phone mount and you will wonder how you ever could have driven without it.
2. A Cooler That Keeps Your Drinks Cold All Trip Long
If your childhood was anything like mine, family road trips would never take place without a fully stocked and iced down cooler packed with drinks and snacks for the whole family. Bringing pre-packed snacks and food can help save time by keeping you on the road longer and save money by avoiding that drive-thru lane. As an adult, I realize now that my parents were onto something.
This Coleman Xtreme 28qt cooler is a step up from the base model that Coleman has on the market, and for only around $8-10 more, it's well worth it. It holds up to 36 cans, retains ice for 3 days at a temperatures of up to 90 degrees, and ensure that you always have a place to sit with a 250 LB weight limit and two cupholders on the lid. All of this in a size that is perfect for your back seat, keeping you nourished without the need to pull over and open the trunk.
3. A Travel Mug That Actually Fits In Your Cup Holder
Staying caffeinated and hydrated are both incredibly important on any road trip. In the past, I've brought a big water bottle, a smaller travel coffee mug, and sometimes another drink I may have picked up while filling up on gas. But ultimately, the car only has one cup holder per person, and even more often, the water bottle doesn't fit in it.
This particular water bottle makes sure that you never experience those problems again. This travel mug fits in most standard cup holders, hold 32 ounces of your favorite beverage, and includes two separate lids to fit your needs (including the handy straw lid for cold drinks!). Most importantly, its' vacuum sealed insulation keeps your hot drinks hot, and your cold drinks cold. Simplify your road trip life and get the travel mug that does it all.
Okay, this one might not technically be a gadget, but it might be the most useful entry on this entire list. With miles of road in front of you, there is plenty of time for all of the audiobooks, podcasts, and music you can handle. Sometimes though, the best way to pass the time and to get to know your travel companions is to have a great conversation. That is where Topix comes in.
What superstitions do you believe in?
What is your favorite rainy day activity?
What do you know about your ancestry?
Whether traveling with your family, your significant other, or just a group of your friends it's amazing how much you don't know about the people in your life. In one compact box, Topix gives you 424 thought-provoking questions to get even the most staunch introvert (AKA me) into the conversation mode. Throw some conversation starters in your glove compartment and never run out of things to talk about. (This makes for a great stocking stuffer too!)
Cars and the technology they come with have come a long way since I was a kid. Rear view cameras, panoramic sunroofs, and driver assist technology seemed so far from the car I grew up with, but are now extremely common in newer vehicles. Bluetooth in cars was a huge advancement, and Apple Car Play and Android Auto have taken car connectivity to the next level, but what if your car is from the era of the aux cord?
This simple adapter by MPOW costs a lot less than a brand new car will (or even a brand new stereo), and with it you turn your decade old car stereo into a Bluetooth receiver. Change the music, listen to turn by turn navigation, or take calls from your phone wirelessly, and forget that you ever had to deal with a mess or wires holding you back. Plus, with a 12 hour battery life, this adapter will keep you connected throughout a long day of travel.
6. A Power Bank That Will Last Much Longer Than A Tank of Gas
The power bank may have originally gained popularity from the air travelers of the world, but make no mistake it is just as useful in a car as it is on a plane. Your phone works hard to give you directions, keep you entertained, and connect you to loved ones to let them know how your trip is going. However, this can often lead to a battery that runs out faster than you'd like.
Anker's PowerCore power bank have been an industry leader for a long time. Jane and I have trusted Anker with our charging needs while traveling for years, and we couldn't recommend their products enough. This specific model gives you a ton of functionality:
Charge 2 devices simultaneously
Huge 20,000 mAh capacity (enough to charge your phone as much as 5 times over)
Universal compatibility for nearly any mobile device
Compact size that can fit in your pocket, or your cupholder
I hope this list resonates with you and maybe even brings you back to the good ol days. I'd love to hear what are some of your must haves for road trips?